Some of Delaware’s youngest leaders in volunteerism will “Race for a Better Delaware” on Sunday, May 29th, 2011, at Wilmington’s Riverfront. Three years ago, local students and parent volunteers developed a walk/race concept to raise funds for and draw attention to the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, and specifically, the Jefferson Awards’ Students in Action leadership initiative, which promotes and rewards volunteerism among high school students across the state. Academics and athletics are important for any high school student. But those of us who participate in the Students in Action program understand that volunteerism and giving back to our community is critically important, too.
The Jefferson Awards’ Students in Action program, now in 35 high schools across the state, offers guidance and support to students who want to volunteer. Students share their program initiatives with others and are recognized for their efforts. Individuals, teams, even entire high schools receive Jefferson Awards for Public Service. The Students in Action program is active in 400 high schools across the U.S. Good news about good works is spreading fast!
During my Freshman year at Tower Hill School, I organized a group of students to travel to St. Bernard’s parish in New Orleans to volunteer with Hurricane Katrina clean-up efforts. We worked at the Latino Farmers’ Cooperative and provided meals to the homeless and displaced at Camp Hope. We developed a documentary of our week-long trip to record our good work and to encourage volunteerism among other students.
I was proud to later win a Jefferson Award for this and other volunteer efforts. Fellow classmates and I have continued to be involved in a variety of community service programs, logging several hundred volunteer hours each year! While we all fully understand the benefits of volunteerism, it also has been a wonderful exercise to learn to quantify and communicate the results of our efforts.
The 3rd annual Race for Better Delaware will raise scholarship money, which will be awarded to outstanding high school seniors who demonstrate leadership through service and complete the Jefferson Awards Leadership training. Students must apply for the $1,000 scholarships. Already, several important Race sponsors have agreed to help us reach our goals: DuPont, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Barclays and W.L. Gore. In 2009 and 2010, we raised an impressive $50,000. And here’s something else — we administer the Race in partnership with Governor Jack Markell and his Better Delaware volunteer initiative.
The 5K family run/walk will start at Big Fish Grill at 9:00 am, with free t-shirts to runners and live music, food and fun following the Race. Please visit www.delawareyouthleadership.com for registration information.